Review: Cockroach by Rawi Hage

CockroachCockroach by Rawi Hage

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hage’s writing never fails to seduce. His protagonist is not particularly appealing in the usual way, but I began to care for him even as he stumbles through life, seemingly unable to have normal relationships with those around him. Much of the novel takes place in a Montreal winter and our immigrant cockroach avoids the sun, stumbles along the frigid streets, bumming cigarettes and food, and stealing. He is (I believe) unnamed in the novel.

So why did I care?

Because there is some damaged core to this character. A childhood of violence and hunger in his homeland. A suicide attempt for which he is receiving free psychiatric out-patient care. Cockroach expresses his love for those around him in sometimes (very) inappropriate ways, yet we understand him, and want the best for him.

This is not a pretty story. But it is reality for those who live on the margins. Hage has captured these lives in previous novels and hits it out of the park with this one.

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